MLB Hot Stove: Free agent Alex Cobb sounds like he wants to play for Cubs
Cubs need starting pitching, and Cobb is a free agent
The NL Central champion Cubs are very much in contending mode, but this winter they stand to lose Jake Arrieta and John Lackey from an already suspect rotation. As such, they need starting pitchers. They're already the subject of Yu Darvish rumors, and pretty much every team will be interested in Shohei Otani, .
While it's not as headline-grabbing as those two names above, another free agent starting pitcher may be a good fit on the North Side: Alex Cobb. The 30-year-old right-hander, assuming he declines the qualifying offer made by the Rays, will be a free agent, and he also has strong ties to Cubs manager Joe Maddon and new pitching coach Jim Hickey, who both worked with Cobb for his best seasons in Tampa Bay. On that point, here's what Cobb told MLB Network Radio (via Patrick Mooney of NBC) ...
"I can't say enough good things about him [Hickey]. He's become – not only a pitching coach – but a real close friend of mine. Obviously, if we move down the line and we're able to have some discussions with them [the Cubs], I'd be very honored to be able to talk with them and hopefully come to a deal."
As Mooney's story points out, Hickey's also on board with a reunion.
Cobb is coming off a 2017 season in which he pitched to a 3.66 ERA (113 ERA+) and 2.91 K/BB ratio in a career-high 179 1/3 innings. For his career, Cobb owns an ERA+ of 111 across parts of six big-league seasons. Those kinds of numbers are more than playable for mid-rotation to back-end guy like Cobb.
Cobb underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2015, so the 2016 season was essentially a lost one for him. This past season, though, he proved his post-surgery mettle in a strong way, at least on the run-prevention and durability levels. In part, that's why Cobb.
If the Cubs are going to win the NL Central for a third straight year, then they'll need to bolster that rotation. Cobb, it seems, is ready and willing to help out.
The Marlins still have more attractive pieces
The A's need outfield help, and the Cardinals have a glut
Minnesota has designs on the best starting pitcher available on the free agent market
The Cardinals have long coveted the Miami outfielder
The superstar slugger is eligible for free agency after next season
The veteran second baseman remains a useful regular